CEDARVILLE — A steady 20-mph wind and gusts hitting 30 mph made for tough conditions at the high school cross country district championships Saturday. But for Fort Loramie senior Joe Ballas, his Division III victory seemed more like a breeze.
Ballas tucked in behind Arcanum senior Tanner Delk much of the 3.1-mile race and drafted off Delk to avoid the wind. Though Ballas felt somewhat apologetic about his strategy, it worked. Ballas won the Div. III district championship in 16:16.21 for a 1.57-second victory over Delk.
“Honestly, he took the wind for me the whole time. I feel bad (drafting off him),” Ballas said of running on the hilly but wide open Elvin R. King course. “I just tried to go out slow and enjoy it.”
The Redskins boys and girls teams both won D-III district championships despite finishing second overall. The district meet was run as a super district with one large race per division, so the top two teams were awarded district titles. Both teams also qualified for the regional championship meet Saturday in Troy.
In the boys race, West Liberty-Salem edged Fort Loramie 82 to 88. Fort Loramie senior Jake Rethman finished fifth to help pace the Redskins.
“I think our focus is really on state,” Ballas said. “We’re in the mix. That’s all you can ask for. You just have to show up on the day that matters which is state.”
The rest of Fort Loramie’s runners included Colten Gasson, 12, 17:00.2; Colin Gasson, 30, 17:42.4; Gavin Schulze, 40, 17:58.6; Evan Eilerman, 63, 18:31.9; and Jordan Drees, 68, 18:39.2.
In the girls race, Fort Loramie freshman Olivia Borchers finished fourth in 19:43.7 and junior Danielle Berning 10th in 20:18.9. West Liberty-Salem finished first with 28 points and Fort Loramie second with 81.
“It’s great to see how they’re doing,” Ballas said of Fort Loramie’s girls. “When we see them run well it motivates us to run well.”
The rest Redskins’ runners included Caitlyn Gasson, 18; 20:43.2; Dani Eilerman, 25, 20:50.3; Claire Rethman, 26, 20:51.2; Corynn Heitkamp, 31, 21:16.2; and Anna Detrick, 34, 21:22.7.
In the D-I boys race, Sidney senior Gavin Bockrath qualified for the regional meet by finishing 31st in 16:55.8. The top 36 runners in D-I advanced. The Yellow Jackets finished 18th overall.
In the D-II race, Anna’s boys finished sixth to qualify for regional. Rockets freshman Lucas Smith finished 12th overall. His personal best ranked him No. 2 entering the district meet, but simply advancing to the regional meet is the main goal.
“I went out leading the first mile,” Smith said. “We were going really slow. I think the wind took a toll on me and I dropped back. … It’s kind of disappointing but there’s always next week. We made it to regional as a team, too, so I’m happy for the team.”
Smith finished in 17:00.9. The rest of Anna’s runners included Jacob Robinson, 18, 17:14.1; Collin Frilling, 44, 18:04.5; Hayden Schmidt, 45, 18:06.4; Nick Fry, 49, 18:12.9; Derek Arling, 67, 18:42.6; and Caleb Gaier, 75, 18:52.2.
Versailles senior Brooks Blakeley (14th) advanced as an individual. He finished in 17:08.8. The Tigers were eighth overall.
In D-III boys, Botkins (5th) and Houston (7th) joined Fort Loramie in qualifying for regional. Botkins freshman Collin Watterson led the Trojans in 13th and senior Tristin Freistuhler finished 24th to pace the Wildcats.
Botkins’ runners included Watterson, 17:00.6; Alan Fullenkamp, 22, 17:29.7; Elliot Goubeaux, 37, 17:50.4; Donovan Brown, 39, 17:57.7; R.J. Poeppelman, 53, 18:18.7; Jameson Meyer, 80, 19:03.0; and Shane Weatherhead, 95, 19:16.4.
Houston’s runners included Friestuhler, 17:35.3; Ethan Knouff, 28, 17:41.6; Blake Jacobs, 29, 17:41.7; Patrick Meiring, 62, 18:31.0; Ryan Ely, 102, 19:27.2; Joseph Earl, 105; 19:30.2; and Brennen Arnold, 110, 19:37.2.
Russia finished 10th, Jackson Center finished 18th, Fairlawn finished 20th and Lehman Catholic finished 29th.
In D-III girls, Versailles (3rd), Russia (6th) and Botkins (8th) advanced along with Fort Loramie. Versailles sophomore Maria Mangen (13th), Russia sophomore Becca Seger (17th) and Botkins sophomore Kelsie Burmeister (35th) crossed the line first for their teams.
Versailles’ runners included Mangen, 20:27.4; Madelyn Holzapfel, 15, 20:31.5; Kara Spitzer, 28, 21:09.4; Liz Watren, 36, 21:24.6; Lauren Menke, 44, 21:55.5; Delaney Barga, 50, 22:10.9; and Emma Peters, 54, 22:26.6.
Russia’s runners included Seger, 20:35.1; Ella Hoehne, 19, 20:46.7; Claire Meyer, 24, 20:49.5; Anna Fiessinger, 47, 22:04.8; Emma DeLaet, 59, 22:38.3; Sarah Pinchot, 93, 23:47.1; and Natalie Klosterman, 103, 24:23.1.
Botkins’ runners included Burmeister, 21:23.8; Liza Aselage, 39, 21:37.9; Arica Jutte, 40, 21:41.4; Makenna Maurer, 45, 22:02.3; Emma Koenig, 46, 22:03.6; Jill Greve, 69, 22:56.4; and Maddie Koenig, 79, 23;11.8.
Houston freshman Ava Knouff (14th) and senior Hollie Voisard (30th) qualified as individuals. Knouff finished in 20:29.1 and Voisard finished in 21:13.1.
Anna freshman Kaylie Kipp (29th) qualified individually. She finished in 21:07.0.
Anna’s girls finished ninth and just missed qualifying behind Botkins. The Trojans edged the Rockets 195 to 218.
Houston was 11th, Lehman Catholic was 15th and Jackson Center was 20th.
Sidney’s girls finished 13th in the D-I race.